Philex expensive at P27 a share, Pangilinan says

By Coco Alcuaz, ANC

Posted at Jul 21 2011 12:08 AM | Updated as of Jul 21 2011 08:08 AM

First Pacific 'spooked' on PLDT

MANILA, Philippines - First Pacific Co., owner of 31% of Philex Mining Corp., may not be interested in the Social Security System's 22% stake because the miner's shares aren't cheap.

SSS said it may sell the stake as Philex and the Philippine Stock Exchange traded at record highs.

Increasing the stake may also subject First Pacific and Philex to the same foreign-ownership issue surrounding First Pacific and investee Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Manuel Pangilinan, who heads the three companies, said.

Philex climbed to a record 27 pesos today after gold rose to an all time high of $1,610.70 per ounce yesterday as investors concerned about the debt crises in the U.S. and Greece sought safety in the metal. Gold slipped today on optimism the crises are nearer resolution.

"Beinte siete na, mahal na," Pangilinan told reporters. "Baka hablain na naman sa foreign ownership. (It's P27, that's expensive. We might face another complaint on foreign ownership.) For now, we'll stay under the radar."

The Supreme Court last month said only voting shares should be counted when determining the foreign ownership of utilities whose foreign ownership is limited to 40 percent. The ruling excludes PLDT's mostly Filipino-owned preferred shares, which are non-voting.

Based on the ruling, which Pangilinan has asked the court to reconsider, PLDT's foreign ownership exceeds 60 percent. PLDT is controlled by First Pacific and Japan's NTT. PLDT has said it would sell voting preferred shares to Filipinos, possibly its own pension fund, to comply with the ruling if it stands.

"They strike at the heart of your investment, your ownership, you get spooked," Pangilinan said.

"They (SSS) will get a good price" for their estimated 1 billion shares, Pangilinan said. "That's a lot of money."

"The only guy who can buy it is a foreigner, that kind of money," he added.